City GuidesDurhamHealth & FitnessRaleighThings to Do

The Best Places Around the Triangle for a Nature Walk

(The Triangle Trend) As summer eases into fall, the North Carolina weather lends itself to outdoor activities — minus all the humidity. During this sweet spot of cool mornings and warm afternoons, consider spending your Saturday basking in nature. Here’s a round-up of some of the best spots in The Triangle — and beyond — to catch some fresh air by foot.

Eno River State Park

6101 Cole Mill Rd, Durham, NC 27705

4950 Howe St, Durham, NC 27705

4390 Old Cole Mill Rd, Durham, NC 27712

4770 Pleasant Green Rd, Durham, NC 27705

4023 Rivermont Rd, Durham, NC 27712

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing walk by a stream or challenging hike to the top of a rocky outcrop overlooking the river rapids, Eno River State Park has it all. With nearly 30 miles of trails nestled in dense hardwood forests and five entrance points for easy access, there’s something available for every skill set and age. If you’re looking for a stress-free stroll by the river, the Pea Creek Trail is your best bet. To get your sweat on, consider scaling the Cox Mountain Trail’s 270-foot elevation. While kayaking and canoeing are permitted, the shallow waters can make it difficult.

Duke Forest

Various Entry Gates

With over 7,000 acres located in Durham, Alamance and Orange County, Duke Forest serves as an outdoor research center for Duke students as well as a recreational hub for Triangle residents. The Duke Forest prides itself on offering glimpses of the Pidemont’s past through the lens of natural resources, including the history of Native Americans, European settlers and the tobacco industry. If you’ve never been to Duke Forest, the Shepherd Nature Trail is a great place to begin as it offers educational signs along the trail that makes you consider the Forest in a historically significant way.

William B. Umstead State Park

8801 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC  27617

2100 N. Harrison Ave, Cary, NC 27513

William B. Umstead State Park offers opportunities for much more than just hiking. The three centralized, man-made lakes are perfect for fishing while the biggest lake (aptly named Big Lake) is great for kayaking and canoeing. With twenty miles of hiking trails — 13 of which are multiuse for horses and bikes — you can enjoy the outdoors by foot, bike, or hoof.

Neuse River Greenway Trail

2900 Horseshoe Farm Rd, Wake Forest, NC 27587

5812 Buffaloe Rd, Raleigh, NC 27616

This 33-mile-long paved trail parallels the Neuse River for easy cycling and walking with spectacular views. The path leads you from the Falls Lake Dam to the Wake/Johnston County line. Along the way, you’ll find ample opportunities to observe wildlife, whether on a suspension bridge over the river, while walking along the boardwalk through wetlands or when passing through a field ripe with wildflowers.

Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

625 Virginia Cates Rd, Hillsborough, NC 27278

Named after the Occoneechee tribe who settled in the area, Occoneechee Mountain is the highest point in Orange County. Visitors are welcome to picnic in the fields shaded by oak trees or fish in the pair of ponds on the property. Though there are only three miles of hiking trails, the views more than make up for it. From the peak that overlooks the lush green of the surrounding forest, to an old quarry, this quiet hideaway is a great afternoon escape.

Occaneechee Speedway Trail

320 Elizabeth Brady Rd, Hillsborough, NC 27278

As the only surviving dirt trail from Nascar’s first season in 1949, each step you take will transport you back in time. With four miles of trails along the banks of the Eno River in addition to the one mile long racetrack, this secret spot in the vibrant town of Hillsborough offers easy, shady trails for anyone wanting to stretch their legs.

Saxapahaw Island Park

5550 Church Rd, Graham, NC 27253

If you’re looking for somewhere off the beaten path, consider exploring Saxapahaw Island Park. Opened in 2018, this 30-acre park takes you through the historic Saxapahaw Rivermill community. With hiking trails that run parallel to the Haw River, ample opportunity for kayaking, canoeing, fishing and even a 45-foot-long wooden slide in the shape of a fish, this quiet park in rural Graham makes for an excellent daytrip.

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button